The Good, the Bad, & the Beginning of the End

NO BY PROXY

Remember a few months ago when an angry rioting mob stormed the Capitol in Washington D.C. armed with bear spray, flag poles, baseball bats, and other assorted weaponry and tried to hunt down members of Congress, and overthrow a legal democratic election?

Apparently some members of Congress would like to just gloss that over. Last week the House of Representatives voted 252-175 to create a bipartisan committee to investigate how that happened and what we ought to do about it. 35 Republicans voted for it. Don Young was not one of them. 

Don Young has missed 14.2% of roll call votes in his career. The lifetime average for those currently serving is 2%, by the way. But he didn’t miss THIS one. He voted NO, by proxy just as Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q-GA), and Kevin McCarthy, and Donald Trump wanted him to. I guess that means they’ve officially abandoned the “Antifa and Black Lives Matter did it” story, and know that the investigation would point squarely in their direction. 

Next we get to find out if our two Senators think a violent assault on our democracy might be worth looking into. Stay tuned.


SCOTUS TAKING UP ABORTION 

You’ve probably heard that the US Supreme Court has made the decision to hear a landmark abortion case, which could gut Roe v. Wade. The decision to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, sets the stage for the court’s newly expanded and emboldened 6-3 conservative majority to reconsider, if not reverse, decades of precedent.

On a state level in 2021, 536 bills restricting abortion have been introduced across the country. Of those, 61 have passed in 13 states, with nearly half of those signed into law in the final week of April alone. According to the Guttmacher Institute, which studies this legislation, 21 states are hostile or extremely hostile to abortion rights, with another eight “leaning” hostile. Alaska is not one of those states, and don’t let these hard-right legislators tell you it is. Here’s the latest information from Pew Research on adults’ views on abortion in Alaska. This isn’t even close.

So how and why does the legislature keep bringing up and passing unconstitutional laws restricting abortion rights or defunding medically necessary abortions? 

1) Their districts are gerrymandered so that Republicans are over-represented in our legislature. 

2) It’s an issue that gets their socially conservative base to the polls. And as we’re seeing with the strangely high turnout in Anchorage for a hard-right socially conservative mayor – it’s more about turnout than popular opinion. Which leads us to:


HB206 – NO EXCEPTIONS

A predictable abortion ban bill was introduced this week in the House from Christopher Kurka (R-Wasilla), the former head of Alaska Right to Life, and co-sponsored by David Eastman (also R-Wasilla). This is a flat out abortion ban from the moment of conception, with no exception for rape or incest. The big concession is that if a doctor was trying to save a woman’s life and the pregnancy was terminated accidentally, the doctor would not be criminally prosecuted. 

Here’s the language of the bill. It’s been assigned to three committees in the House which means it will unlikely ever make it to the floor by the deadline next year, but it should also be a wakeup call that we need to maintain (or increase) the majority in the House, or this is the kind of stuff that will pass.

Kurka concluded with the coffee spit moment of the day by saying, “It’s time to stop being science deniers!”

Yes, this is the same Rep. Kurka featured in this incident👇 a couple months ago.

Mr. “Let’s stop being science deniers” said that enforcement of COVID-19 safety rules in the Capitol were a “thinly veiled power play.”  “Let’s end this charade!” he went on. “COVID-19 is here to stay. No measures we take are going to stop it, no matter how repressive a course, or unconstitutional.” He also wasn’t so sure the CDC was really basing their guidelines on “science.” The Speaker told him to mask up or leave. He left. 

But wait, there’s more on Kurka fun this week…



ASSISTED LIVING (BUT NOT *THAT* ASSISTED)

Last week, Rep. Mike Prax (R-North Pole) decided that one of the places we should cut the budget was the Office of Children’s Services. That’s right, those kids in harm’s way really suck up the dollars we could be giving to Conoco Phillips, et al. Fortunately, most of those amendments were defeated, thanks to Democrats.

This week, with vulnerable children off the table, it’s apparently time to target the elderly and infirmed. Christopher Kurka put forth some amendments to SB89 (dealing with rules for assisted living homes). His target? Food and internet for elderly/disabled people.

One of Kurka’s amendments removed part of the bill that said assisted living homes need to provide (at the resident’s expense) foods of their cultural preference. This is mostly going to come into play for Native residents where the health and psychological benefits of being able to enjoy traditional foods are huge. Kurka’s objection is that even though foods that comply with religious or health needs are already required and valid, CULTURAL foods are a “dietary whim.”

[Rep. Chris Kurka (R-Wasilla)]The

Rep. Liz Snyder (D-Anchorage) explained that cultural foods are related to both religious AND health needs. Current practice is to provide these foods because the outcomes are so positive, so this is just the statute reflecting what we do mostly already.

David Eastman (R-Wasilla) said it was “unfortunate” when we add mandates, and anyway it doesn’t have to do with “heartfelt religious concerns and health.” 

Ivy Spohnholz reminded everyone that “cultural preferences aren’t whims” and that they ARE  “deep and heartfelt.” “If your family and community has been eating something for 10,000 years, it seems like they should be able to do so.”

[Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, (D-Anchorage)]

Kevin McCabe, predictably, said that this would “be one more incursion into the free market” because owners would have to “capitulate to everyone’s need.”

Geran Tarr talked about the Alaska Farmland Trust and their focus on the healing power of food. She noted that the Executive Chef at the Alaska Native Medical Center said that providing traditional foods had tremendously positive health impacts, and that we want people to be as healthy as possible. She reiterated that the residents would pay the cost, not the provider. 

Kurka wrapped up by ignoring everything and saying, “It’s clear we are limiting the free market… If you pile on piles and piles and piles of regulations, then you are limiting the free market… And when you tell a business what they have to provide you are limiting. This goes too far.”

[Yes votes to deny cultural food at resident’s expense]

Not to be deterred, Kurka went on with his next amendment about “another quote unquote ‘enumerated right’” regarding communications in the home, namely internet access. The internet is not a fundamental right, he said.

Kevin “I never actually read the bill first” McCabe said he didn’t support the bill because, “What if they can’t provide internet? It might prevent someone from opening or maintaining a facility. And also “another legislative attempt to limit the free market!”

The bill clearly says that providing internet is “subject to availability.” 

Tiffany Zulkosky (D-Bethel) said it was made clear that this language in the bill would not be a burden if there isn’t quality or affordable internet at a particular time. “This language is not burdensome for rural areas, or those with insufficient data. There is a need that exists for elders to be connected with their loved ones in unforeseen circumstances.”

[Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky (D-Bethel)]

David Eastman:  “…something something Free market!”

Ivy Spohnholz clarfied that 97% of assisted living homes have internet access to the home already, and that residents should also have access to it.

Mike Prax (R-North Pole) says “the internet is ubiquitous, but water is too and you don’t have a right to be provided water… It’s the question of right vs. need. Internet is a privilege… we shouldn’t be making choices for people.” 

Let’s explore that world for a minute. Maybe some people don’t want to bathe and they only drink juice. Why should we have to provide water. It’s not a right. What if someone is blind? Why should they have to pay for electricity just so everyone else has a lightbulb in their room? They’re not using it. People don’t really need hot showers. Why should they be forced to pay for hot water when they could just take cold showers? 

Kurka wraps up by saying, “The internet is a wonderful thing. Being able to call your family is a wonderful thing. But by putting this requirement in the bill we are raising the cost for everybody. It’s unjust to make individuals pay for it to provide for others. The way we are choking the free market in this state is concerning to me.”

Luckily this amendment too failed to pass despite CHOKING THE FREE MARKET!!!

[Green voted to strip available internet access for residents from the bill]

And finally after this dark and dismal amendment debate over how we treat our elders who need help, we’re back to the main bill. Liz Snyder says the bill’s intent is to insert language that will bring us into compliance with The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, provide basic services, freedom from abuse, food that meets religious, cultural, and health needs, the ability to have visitors, and for residents to live a life of autonomy and dignity. Snyder points out that if a facility can’t meet these needs, we have bigger problems. And the bill passes 30-10, no thanks to the names in red below.


“TRANS REPUBLICANS”

The moment went by quickly, but this week in a House Finance Committee meeting, a caller giving public testimony on a bill derisively referred to a legislator as a “trans Republican.” I guess this is the new term for RINO (Republican in name only)? Reporter Rashah McChesney noted the incident.

>>>Click HERE to watch the video clip.

Speaking of transphobia, Republican Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) this week introduced an anti-trans sports bill which would basically disallow transgender girls from participating in high school sports. We’ll see this one pop up next session.


GOOD THINGS!

I don’t mean to shock you, but there were actually quite a few pretty fantastic things that happened last week too, and here are some of those!

HB55 DEFINED BENEFITS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS

The House voted to pass legislation that would provide a new retirement incentive (defined benefit plan) to help attract law enforcement officers and firefighters.

Alaska is notoriously bad at retaining police and firefighters because we’ve got a really uncertain retirement system that incentivizes what Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) called “train and drain” meaning that people come to Alaska to get great training, but then drain out of the state after five years, taking their experience with them to other places that offer much better retirement plans to spend the bulk of their careers. As a matter of fact, Alaska is one of only two states that does not offer public safety workers any form of defined benefit retirement options. It’s a problem.

Reps. McCabe (R-Big Lake) and Kurka (R-Wasilla) spoke up about how they are really concerned about “golden handcuffs” that will keep police officers and firefighters here for too long. (???) 

[Kevin McCabe (R-Big Lake)]

Adam Wool says that the head of the Department of Public Safety said that recruitment and retention are problems and the current retirement plan is a huge part of that.

Tom McKay, freshman Republican from Anchorage, says that if we’re having such a tough time finding police and firefighters we should just poach them from Democrat cities that had rioting over the summer because “there should be a surplus.”

Zack Fields (D-Anchorage) says the rank and file have told us that the lack of a defined benefit plan is the root cause of high-cost turnover, and that management is telling us the same thing. This plan is structured so there is zero financial risk for the state. He also says that vacant positions are a public safety problem, and we pay in crime. “This bill supports the police.” He also points out that most people have a defined benefit called Social Security, but police and firefighters do not.

Sarah Vance (R-Homer) says that she thinks the police don’t receive enough appreciation and she totally supports the police. Just not now because “the timing is imprudent.”Boy, these supposed “Back the Blue” people sure don’t want to fund the police!

Despite them (see vote board above) HB 55 passed the House 25-15 with all Democrats voting yes, and it will now be transmitted to the Senate for work next session.

RECOGNITION OF ALASKA TRIBES

House Bill 123, a bill that formally recognizes the Alaska Native Tribes that have existed here and governed themselves for millennia got to the House floor Wednesday, too. Alaska’s history with tribes is fraught, and many Native people were forced to abandon their culture, identity, languages, and ways of life as Alaska moved toward statehood and after. HB 123 does not change the State’s relationship with Tribes, it simply affirms their status as already acknowledged and enumerated by the federal government. There is no “fiscal note” attached to the bill which means it doesn’t cost the state anything. And as a matter of fact, the state recognition opens up the avenue for millions of federal dollars to benefit rural Alaska.

Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky (D-Bethel) sponsored the bill. She called it “significant because it is difficult to speak about expanding our relationship with Tribes when the State doesn’t acknowledge them in Alaska statute.”

Rep. Neal Foster (D-Nome) added, “Alaska relies on our Tribal partners to help provide services essential to Alaskans living in rural parts of the state. Tribes contribute to everything from public safety and transportation to healthcare and economic development.”

This should be a huge no-brainer unanimous yes vote, BUT…

The NO votes to acknowledge Alaska Native tribes were: David Eastman (R-Wasilla), Christopher Kurka (R-Wasilla), Kevin McCabe (R-Big Lake), and McCarty (R-Eagle River). Shame on them.

The bill now heads to the Senate where it will be taken up next session.

LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION

House Bill 47 is another bill that should have been a unanimous yes. All it does is shorten the name of “The Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council” to the “Council for Alaska Native Languages.” It also adds two members for a total of seven, to more adequately represent the wide cultural diversity of Alaska Native languages. It publishes a report every two years with recommendations and analysis.

There are 21 Alaska Native languages spoken today, and the council seeks to revitalize their use. Half the languages have fewer than 10 fluent speakers left. Anti-Native language practices and attempts in the past to eradicate Native culture are responsible for the sharp decline. 

“What kind of humans are we if we stand upon a foundation of racism and allow systems of communication that are tens of thousands of years old to be lost?” asked X̱’unei Lance Twitchell, a council member and Tlingit language scholar in this article on the council.

I suppose we could ask David Eastman (R-Wasilla) and Mike Prax (R-North Pole) who were the only two no votes.

INDUSTRIAL HEMP

Here’s one that’s been in the hopper for a long time. Back in the day, Senator Johnny Ellis pushed the creation of an industrial hemp program, and when he retired Sen. Shelley Hughes was handed the baton. It passed the Senate, and this week Rep. Grier Hopkins (D-Fairbanks) took it over the finish line.

[Back in the day it was the Freedom to Farm bill – SB8. Today it’s SB27!]

Industrial hemp is completely different from recreational marijuana and has many applications, from fiber, to cosmetics, to food supplements, to building materials, to paints and solvents, to animal feed, to biofuel. 

It has no psychogenic properties and has a THC level below 1%. But most important, it opens up a whole new industry in the agriculture sector and provides green alternatives to traditional products that use petroleum, and creates jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.

It now goes to the governor’s desk for his signature.

*And a big congratulations to Rep. Hopkins and his wife Kristina who just became parents to a beautiful baby girl! Welcome to the world, Isidora!

THE LONG TRAIL 

Senator Bill Wielechowski scored a big win last week, when this amendment was accepted by the Senate! “The Long Trail” is a working name only, and the Senator has said that suggestions are welcome.

RESPECT AND CARE

Three more things of note to make you happy.

1) HJR16 from Geran Tarr asks the U.S. Congress to give the Hmong veterans who were such a lifeline for so many American soldiers in Viet Nam (many risking or losing everything) the same benefits as U.S. soldiers of that war passed with unanimous support.

2) SB19 passed both bodies, and extended the sunset date for the Special Education Service Agency, and increased funding for a program making sure that students with uncommon disabilities in smaller school districts aren’t overlooked and have their educational needs met. It now awaits the governor’s signature.

3) HR 8 – The House voted to create a Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity with 23 members. It will delve into the reasons, challenges, and solutions that target lower-income Alaskans. Rep. Tarr mentioned the discovery that many were using the ER for health issues simply because it was near a bus stop. $20 transportation vouchers helped solve the problem and save the state lots of money! The resolution to create a task force on poverty passes 34-6.



SENATE

The big deal in the Senate came with the PFD votes at the end of a mammoth session, but before we go there, I have to point out a few eye-rolling moments along the way.

CRITICAL RACE THEORY 😱

Amendment 3 to the budget had Sen. Lora Reinbold trying to insert intent language saying that public funds cannot be used to teach “divisive critical race theory in schools.” Once again, nobody really seems to understand what it means except that “critical race theory” has the word “race” in it and right wing media has latched on to it so now Republicans think it’s scary because racism doesn’t really exist except when you talk about it. 

To the rescue was Sen. Tom Begich (D-Anchorage) who stood to say he objected to Reinbold’s characterization, and saying that critical race theory is not taught in any K-12 system in America. He goes on to explain that the theory is discussed in academia to understand the intersection of race and the law, but that it’s generally used by the far right to stir the pot and whip up fear and racial animus. “It’s been grabbed on to by people attempting to create racial divide.” “It’s a thing taught in law school and grad schools to look at how we develop and create law.”

He gave two examples of how using critical race theory is/was in play in Alaska.

Prior to the federal fair housing act, South Addition, Airport Heights, Fairview, and Rogers Park (all in Anchorage) had strict covenants prohibiting Black and Native Alaskans from renting or buying homes in those neighborhoods. And some of these still exist on the books! “This is why we decided to pass the Fair Housing Act.” 

He also said that back in the 90s we found we were not ‘diverting’ Alaska Native kids enough. Diversion is when you commit a minor crime, the idea is to ‘divert’ you from entering the juvenile justice system where you might learn more about crime. Alaska Native kids were ending up in the system at 3 times the rate of others. They found out it was because judges were required to release a child to a parent. And in Alaska Native culture there were often caretakers who were not biological parents, but extended family members like aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. “We rewrote the law based on that. That was the consequence from examining it throught critical race theory.” As a result, more non-violent offenders who were Alaska Native kids were included in diversion.

He said he didn’t believe Reinbold was trying to be divisive but urged a no vote.

Reinbold said she “doesn’t want to undo good work we’ve done, but I won’t push to a vote today. I will withdraw the amendment.” But then someone objected and they had to proceed. Here’s how it fell out. Rejected 11-9.


WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ MONEY… APPARENTLY

Amendment 15, from Senator Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), said it’s the Legislature’s intent to extend the $300 federal weekly unemployment benefit through Sept. 4. He made a compelling case that we shouldn’t reject hundreds of millions in federal dollars that could be infused into local economies and spent at local businesses by people who really need it and FOR businesses that need it. 

Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) implored the Senate to have empathy to those in real need and come together to make it happen. 

But the ol’ “those people just want to be lazy and stay home” trope was brought up by Lora Reinbold (who is also suddenly concerned about federal debt after never mentioning it for 4 years).

Jesse Kiehl (D-Juneau) talked about Southeast where there are no jobs, no cruise ships until maybe August, and fading hope. They need the assistance for groceries and gas. He pointed out that not all areas of the state are the same.

Wielechowski added that we have the lowest unemployment insurance in the country and we are an expensive state to live in. We’re talking $219 million in federal funds.

The amendment failed 10-10, with Bishop, Holland and Stevens joining the Democrats in voting yes. We needed only one more yes vote, so please note who voted no and turned away hundreds of millions of dollars in help. Yep, that’s Mia Costello (R-Anchorage) who didn’t want essential workers to get educational opportunities because if they have a chance to escape poverty-wage jobs – who will bag our groceries?

Sorry, Alaska. The Democrats tried.


PFD 

Welcome to the weirdly least partisan thing in the Senate – the PFD. It’s a free-for-all with both Democrats and Republicans on both sides of everything from a full statutory PFD, to a sort of measly one. 

Here’s how everyone fell out with the two options presented.

This amendment from Sen. Bill Wielechowski would have proposed a full $3400 PFD payment to all Alaskans. It failed on a 10-10 vote with 7 Republicans and 3 Democrats voting in favor.

Then Mike Shower (R-Wasilla) proposed a smaller PFD but much larger than anything discussed in the House – $2340, which used some of the PFD money to fund the budget. This one passed 12-8, picking up two more Democrats.

If you want to hear a clip from Sen. Wielechowski’s floor speech on why we’re in this position in the first place, and why our PFD (which is the most regressive tax according to UA’s Institute of Social and Economic Research) keeps getting cut CLICK HERE

[How’d that NO on 1 to Save the PFD work out?]

SPOILER: It has something to do with giving billions of dollars in tax credits to giant corporations instead of Alaskans. But you knew that already.

THE END IS JUST THE BEGINNING

No sooner had the regular session ended, than the next morning a new special session began. This begs the question, if there are ALWAYS special sessions are they really all that special?

Regardless, this one (the second one will be in August) deals with tying up the loose ends of the Operating and Mental Health budgets, the PFD, and constitutional amendments on the Permanent Fund, the PFD, and the Power Cost Equalization (PCE) program which provides economic assistance to communities and residents utilizing rural electric utilities where the cost of electricity can be three to five times higher than for customers in more urban areas of the state.

We’ll see how the House and Senate reconcile their different ideas on the PFD, and if they can wrap up before June 1. Otherwise, the dreaded annual tradition of pink slips to more than 14,000 state workers will rear its head yet again. Buckle up – the beginning of the end is in sight.

Wasilla Rep. wants marriage defense for ‘rape by fraud’

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

The legislature finalized House Bill 76 this week that allows Alaska to keep millions of dollars in critical federal covid-related funding. But it didn’t come easy. The House passed their version of the bill back in March, then it went to the Senate, which brought it to the floor with 41 amendments, and only 2 days to spare before the money evaporated. 

Republicans had some doozies. Majority leader Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) had an amendment which said that “biological girls should play biological girls, and biological boys should play biological boys” in high school sports. Minority Leader Tom Begich (D-Anchorage) pointed out that this had nothing to do with disaster funding, and the amendment was withdrawn.

That didn’t stop David Wilson (R-Wasilla) from proposing an amendment to financially punish schools who decided to teach “critical race theory” – the new trigger of the right. Again – nothing to do with anything in the bill, so he withdrew it. Then Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) said we need to explore the use of Vitamin D and hydroxychloroquine (yes really). Perhaps someone should show her todays headline.

And Mike Shower (R-Wasilla) and Reinbold would also like you to know they are SICK of hearing about the disaster. 

And remember last week when Wilson brought up in the Finance Committee that he wanted to add an amendment that none of this money could go to fund abortion, and Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) brought up the fact that: 1) There was already a provision that covered this and kept it from happening, and 
2) the legislature’s own legal department said that it’s unconstitutional and that if it passes, the state will be sued (like it has many times before) and we’ll have to pay legal fees when we lose (which we’ve done many times before) and that could cost literally millions of dollars (which it has before).

Ever the Constitutional optimist, Wielechowski brought this up again and offered an amendment to remove it so that we wouldn’t have to break the state piggy bank to support the grandstanding habits of Republicans who swear to uphold the Constitution and then don’t.      

[Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage)]

Majority Leader Shelley Hughes said that one option is “if a court ruling is wrong, don’t follow it.” This led to a visibly startled Wielechowski reminding everyone of some basics. “We are a nation of laws,” he said and then talked about Marbury v. Madison which determined in 1803 who gets the final say in these matters – the Supreme Court. “We all took an oath to uphold the Constitution. That is the society we live in. These are the rules. If we don’t follow them it leads to anarchy where society breaks down because you have individuals picking and choosing which laws they want to follow. We can disagree, and I respect that people do, but this is a clear-cut decision… It’s not even close.”

And behold the vote record indicating who the real Constitutional defenders are, and who’s like Eh…  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

The literal check will come due for this one down the road. I’ll keep you posted.

Eventually the amendments came to an end, and the bill finally passed, went back to the House, and was approved in its final form. 

Here’s what it does:

  • Protects $8 million in monthly federal food assistance to COVID-19 impacted Alaskans; 
  • Ensures the state is eligible for future federal aid and reimbursement for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) costs; 
  • Limits the governor’s ability to spend federal funds without legislative approval; 
  • Continues the legal operation of off-site testing and vaccination sites and waivers to care for patients telephonically; and
  • Allows healthcare and mental health providers to ensure the delivery of telehealth services to Alaskans. 

Who wouldn’t love that, right? Well, actually…

The NO votes turned help away, and they’re all up for reelection next year. Remember that. ^^



SPEAKING OF TURNING HELP AWAY

Kind of reminds one of the American Rescue Plan which gives Alaska tremendous financial relief in our time of need and NONE of our 3-member congressional delegation voted to do this. So all the assistance with vaccines, all the stimulus checks that were just sent out, and all the benefits bulleted above happened with literally no thanks to a single Republican.   

Murkowski, Sullivan, and Young were all NO votes – voting to leave Alaskans high and dry with no help. Remember that too. Especially because two of those people are running for reelection next year. Yep, 87-year old Don Young wants two more years


WEIRDEST AMENDMENT EVER

Put all those bizarre Republican amendments from the Disaster Extension aside for a second, because the Weirdest Amendment Ever award goes to … drumroll… Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla) for Amendment #1 on House Bill #5 which he proposed in the House State Affairs Committee.

HB5 is Rep. Geran Tarr’s (D-Anchorage) bill which you can read HERE. It seeks to do a number of things including tightening up and clarifying the definition of consent toaddress inducing someone into sex through deception. Before the amendments were considered, Tarr reminded the group of the severity of the crimes they were considering.

And here’s where it gets goofy, so stay with me. Rep. Eastman proposed an amendment to the definition which would expand the “marriage defense” (it can’t be rape because we’re married) to include this “rape by fraud” provision in which the offender (the spouse) misrepresents their physical identity in order to gain consent from the victim (the other spouse).

I’ll give you a minute.

Chair Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins asked Eastman if he could provide an example of a scenario which might justify the exemption of married people from the crime of rape by fraud.   

Eastman offered this. “If the spouse is thinking that their partner is having an affair and as part of catching their partner in the act they switch places so the spouse thinks they are the person they’re having an affair with.” He said the first thing he thought of when reading the amendment was Shakespeare’s 1623 comedy, All’s Well that Ends Well. He then gave a synopsis of the Bard’s famous ‘switcheroo’ play. “The moral of the story is that it all works out in the end, but we just can’t even conceive of all the many situations this could be used against an innocent spouse.”

No, we cannot.

“Maybe it’s just a wife trying to sort things out in a marriage with her husband. If at the end of sorting it out, now she’s got to deal with the criminal charge of rape for having slept with her husband, that’s wrong.” He did not clarify how faking her identity to have non-consensual sex with her husband was “sorting things out.” 

Kreiss-Tomkins, keeping a straight face, asked John Skidmore of the Department of Law if this situation had ever arisen in real life.

Skidmore: “In my 22 years of experience I never encountered such a case… The legal analysis I look at is that he is proposing a spouse has sex with another spouse believing the other spouse is a third person and would not have had sex with their actual spouse… If we can strain hypotheticals, the question that you all would have to answer is why would you be interested in passing a law that protects an individual who can only have sexual relations with another person by tricking them?”

Skidmore went on to try to imagine a “Mission Impossible mask scenario” and said he found it implausible that you could somehow trick the person you are the most intimate with into believing you are another person. And that no matter how much he wishes he could make himself look like Brad Pitt, there’s “no way in hell I could make myself look like Brad Pitt” and that his wife would not be fooled.

I can’t synopsize the entire thing because it went back and forth for almost half an hour with “what if” this, or “suppose” that. If you want to witness it for yourself, Eastman introduces the amendment at 1:20:00 HERE. I recommend a beverage and a snack while you watch.

Unsurprisingly, Eastman was the only member to vote yes. Reps. Claman, Story, Kreiss-Tomkins, Kaufman, Tarr and Vance all voted no. And the amendment died.

All’s Well That Ends Well, you might say.


WHAT’S WRONG WITH SB39

Well, it’s been a week now, and we’ve sorted through the tangle of Sen. Mike Shower’s (R-Wasilla) voter suppression bill, and learned how it’s still awful, despite a couple improvements.     

The bill has moved forward to the Senate Judiciary Committe (formerly chaired by Lora Reinbold, now chaired by Roger Holland), and scheduled for public testimony on Saturday, May 8. So, mark your calendar and take a few minutes from your weekend to make a call for voting rights.

All you will have to do is call: 

In Juneau – 907-586-9085 
In Anchorage – 907-563-9085 
Anywhere else in the state – 844-586-9085

Say you’re there to testify on Senate Bill 39, and when your time comes say who you are, where you’re from, and speak your piece (you can be brief).

Or you can send an email to the Senate Judiciary committee with your thoughts at Senate.Judiciary@akleg.gov. It doesn’t take many emails to get their attention. Always use your own words, but here are some of the things we don’t like about it.

1) It creates new election crimes, including crimes around helping elderly, sick, or disabled people to turn in ballots. How does threatening people with JAIL for helping others create a welcoming environment to exercise your right to vote? Come to think of it, wasn’t there a time in the not so distant past in this country when law enforcement officers stood outside polling places in Black neighborhoods? Is this somewhere we really want to go again?

2) It shortens the time to request absentee ballots AND the time to receive them. How does making it harder to vote support democracy. The idea is to allow as many people to legally vote as possible. People love voting by mail, but this is Alaska and sometimes we need a little extra mail time – both ways – especially in rural areas. Closing down an increasingly popular way to vote doesn’t make a better election, it just makes a smaller one.

3) Ballots don’t get counted if a voter could use “digital multi-factor authentication,” but didn’t. Digital multi-factor authentication is like when an entity sends a code to your cell phone and you have to enter that code into a form. So it not only creates a hurdle, but technical difficulties would literally stop you from voting. The internet was down in a large swath of Southeast (including the capital) for the whole day yesterday because of a broken undersea fiber optic cable, FYI. Again, it’s Alaska and stuff happens. “Digital multi-factor authentication” is a solution for a non-existent problem, and puts legitimate votes in peril.

I’m not saying it was sharks, but… I’m not saying it COULDN’T have been sharks.

4) It uses “blockchain voting.” What the heck is “block chain voting” you ask? Exactly. This is a new and largely unproven method of tracking votes, and here’s the kicker. It will reveal people’s votes if the voter ID list can be matched with names, since the blockchain is public.  

5) A hunting or fishing license will no longer be an acceptable ID to vote in Alaska. In ALASKA. This writer may or may not have used a fishing license as acceptable proof of ID in a bar at some point. That includes for rural residents who may not have other forms of ID, and a permanent license that a service-disabled veteran can get. Mike Shower just stood on the floor of the Senate TODAY saying that any little thing we can do to make vets’ lives easier should be done. Except his own bill I guess…


REINBOLD IN THE NATIONAL NEWS

Alaska Republican legislators’ idiocy once again makes the national news. Last time it was Rep. Ben Carpenter saying that getting covid tested was like wearing a yellow star and Hitler was just “misunderstood.” 

Now it’s the fact that Lora Reinbold has been banned from Alaska Airlines for her continual belligerence, intimidation, and defiance of masking rules. Let it be said that the Republican Senate Majority could take a page from Alaska Airlines’ playbook because they dealt with Reinbold better than her own caucus. 

Ironically, Reinbold (having no other commercial airline options) had to take… THE FERRY. Yes, the ferry that she’s been voting to defund for years. Suddenly she has “an appreciation” for it. Add it to the long line of Republicans who have to have it happen to THEM before they care.


MORE BILLS TO WATCH!

Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) has proposed a slate of six bills that address policing in Alaska. She’s met with top law enforcement people, and crafted some thoughtful legislation. Keep you eye on these bills, and we’ll let you know when you’ll have a chance to offer public comment.




LESS THAN TWO WEEKS LEFT!

You’ve got less than two weeks if you are in the Anchorage Municipality to get your mayoral ballot back in the mail or deposit it in a drop box. We’ve been giving you lots of reasons to vote for Forrest Dunbar and lots of reasons NOT to vote for Dave Bronson, but here’s another that just surfaced today on TikTok​, after a recent debate.

Yes. He said, “IF THERE WAS A PANDEMIC.”  I’m starting to wonder if this guy should even be flying planes, never mind being the actual mayor of Alaska’s biggest city. So get those ballots in the mail NOW because the small but determined group of Bronson fans are ALL getting out there to vote. Don’t let the minority rule the city for the next three years. Bug your friends, go to the post office and watch them stamp your ballot, put it in a drop box. but DO IT. Questions?  Call the voter hotline at 907-243-VOTE.

‘Where do they find these people?’


TODAY IS THE DAY!

If you’re in the Anchorage Municipality, don’t say we didn’t tell you this one is important! You get to decide whether Anchorage has a responsible, decent mayor or a homophobic Alaska Family Council homeless-hating right winger. (yikes!)

You also get to decide whether you get thoughtful, intelligent school board members, or ones who joke about corporal punishment and obsess about racism not existing on their social media posts.

And if you’re in Midtown you get to pick between keeping Felix Rivera, a caring hard-working Assembly Chair, or letting a bunch of Q-azy, anti-masking, storm-the-Assembly-chambers wackos turn out to vote and recall him. 

Outside interests have dumped money into this one and they want to see if fear-mongering will call out enough of their base to overturn the will of Midtown Anchorage. [To show you how out of touch these people are, they just sent out hundreds of mailers to Midtown FAIRBANKS! Not kidding.] 

Even if you’re burned out on politics, feel like you don’t know enough, or can’t find your ballot, please make this your top priority! Ballots are due in the drop box or must be post-marked today. Details at muni.org. And if you’re not in Anchorage, pester your friends who are, or drop a reminder in your Facebook feed!

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Former Governor Sarah Palin  (along with Republican Congressman Don Young and State Senate President Peter Micchiche) has now joined the “It Happened to Me so it Must Be Real Now” club. 

This week she revealed that she, her son Trig, and her daughter all contracted covid.

“As confident as I’d like to be about my own health, and despite my joking that I’m blessed to constantly breathe in the most sterile air, my case is perhaps one of those that proves anyone can catch this.”

[Photo from the Daily Mail]

She then went on to urge people to wear masks. She was surprised that her son Trig, who apparently was the biggest mask-wearer in the family came down with COVID. Apparently, despite everything, she still doesn’t understand that wearing a mask is mostly for others, and that all the anti-maskers bear the bulk of the responsibility for getting others (including her family) sick.

But let’s not quibble. The fact that Republicans who do get COVID or have people close to them who do are speaking out and telling people to take it seriously is good news – even though we wish it had come a year ago.

[No, this is not Palin’s famous fence]

THE MASK-ERADE THAT NEVER ENDS

Will the Palin admonishment be enough to get Republicans in the legislature to stop the mask drama? It’s Easter weekend so we’ll have to wait until Monday. But probably not. Here’s Sen. Lora Reinbold, Chair of the Judiciary Committee this week who just can’t seem to figure out the complicated procedure of how to wear a mask on her face. The new CDC-approved face shield she switched to after threat of expulsion from the Capitol presumes that the wearer creates a seal around their face with the foam. Reinbold prefers to wear it so loosely that there are gaping holes on either side, AND is a habitual over-noser. But this week she stepped it up another level and pulled the mask completely away from her face while she spoke, in a new iteration of the longest mask-tantrum ever.

In that same meeting, Reinbold continued to live on the edge by getting into a brief debate with Sen. Bill Wielechowski about oil tax credits. (!!!)

Wielechowski’s SJR1 seeks to put the PFD in the Constitution. Reinbold asked about where the budget cuts would come from, and Wielechowski said we could be receiving over $1billion a year if we eliminated oil tax credits – allowing us to put the PFD in the constitution so the legislature would not be forced to keep whittling it away to balance the budget. 

She disagreed with him and said she could “bring charts.” Going up against Sen. Wielechowski on oil tax policy with made-up charts is the legislative equivalent of the Maldives deciding to wage a land war in Afghanistan. It ended with Reinbold frantically calling an at-ease so the subject could be changed, after getting a carpet-bombing of facts from Wielechowski.

Pick your battles, Sen. Reinbold.

And after cutting him off, she made sure to tell the committee that she doesn’t cut people off. 

Moving on…

DOWN IN THE VALLEY

Any time there’s a town hall in the Mat-Su, there are always memorable moments.

Anyone who thought that Rep. Mike Cronk (R-Tok) who attended a packed maskless fundraiser in Palmer, then flew back to Juneau infecting his staff (and potentially others) with COVID and putting a dozen people in quarantine would serve as a cautionary tale, doesn’t know the Mat-Su delegation very well. Behavior modification? Pffff.

Representatives Christopher Kurka, Kevin McCabe, David Eastman, Delena Johnson and Cathy Tilton as well as Senator’s David Wilson, Shelley Hughes and Mike Shower all followed in Cronk’s footsteps, holding a maskless Mat-Su town hall meeting last weekend before… flying back to Juneau. 

The local paper, The Frontiersman was there, and reported on the minority Republicans’ strategy. Here’s what it is, in addition to their thoughts on Sen. Mike Shower’s voter suppression bill SB39 that would hobble main-in voting, and also limit the ability of Alaskans to assist elderly and disabled people from casting their ballots among other things.

Rep. Kevin McCabe (R-Big Lake): 
“All 18 of us in the minority … will do whatever we can to be obstructionists, but in the minority in the House that’s virtually all we can do is be obstructionists. We can put in amendments, we can waste their time, we can stand up and say exactly what you just said, what I just said and we all support election integrity. We all support Senator Shower’s bill. You see Representative Tilton over there nodding. We talk about this often in caucus, it’s one of our four basic guiding principles, one of the number one issues that we have decided that as a caucus we’re going to support,” said McCabe. “There are at least three of us sitting at this table who have been labeled top seditionistsby national democrat organizations for signing onto a simple amicus brief. That’s the new democrat word, it’s no longer racist we’re seditionist so I’m proud to be in the company of David Eastman and Christopher Kurka and signed onto that amicus brief that we signed onto.”

The “simple amicus brief” McCabe mentions is Texas v. Pennsylvania – filed in December of 2020 in which the state of Texas attempted to block election results in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin (all states that Biden won). At least 90 other election lawsuits by Trump surrogates had been tossed out by this point, but Trump called this lawsuit “the big one.”

The attorneys general for the defendant states were joined in briefs submitted by AGs from twenty other states, two territories, and the District of Columbia urging the Court to refuse the case, calling it a “seditious abuse of the judicial process”.  

The Supreme Court issued its orders the next day, declining to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of the election held by another state. Go figure. “The big one” got laughed out of court like the rest, but now McCabe and his buddies can all be “proud seditionists” together.

Mat-Su Moms for Social Justice‘s Andrea Hackbarth and Meggie Aube-Trammell also reported on the town hall.

“…What we didn’t quite anticipate was the intensity of many of the speakers’ anger and fear, or the complete echo-chamber that the room became. The crowd would erupt into cheers and clapping whenever a speaker expressed their distaste or outright hatred of the federal government or their support for the second amendment with lines like, “we have the second amendment to protect the first.” Amused chuckles spread through the room when a speaker suggested that they should open the borders and send all the migrants up here in the winter so they could freeze to death.
The legislators ate this up and mostly sat with amused smirks on their faces, when they weren’t pandering to the audience with their answers. One constituent expressed to Senator Mike Shower that he ‘loved him like a brother.’ Rep. DeLena Johnson spoke about how great it was to be back in the valley among ‘people who think like us.’ As a group, they bragged about being labeled seditionists and stated their goals to obstruct and slow down government processes. Of course, the crowed cheered these statements. It was, in essence, a pep rally for them.”

The quote of the day came from a Mat-Su resident who boomed into the microphone: 

“I, for one, do not accept the federal government as being the legal government of the United States of America!” This was met by enthusiastic applause and cheers.

Hackbarth notes, “…This may not have been the right forum for us, but it underscored the dire need for us to make our voices heard just as loudly as those who spoke and were cheered on by the audience. If these are the only or the loudest voices our delegation hears, they can continue believing that they represent the beliefs of all their constituents. They can continue believing that the Valley is composed of only “people who think like them.” We need to show them that not everyone in the Mat-Su shares their views and that our voices deserve to be represented as well.”

TRUE CONFESSION

Not sure who your legislators are? You’re not alone, but it’s easy to find out. Just click HERE, scroll down and enter your address in the field at the very bottom right that says “Who represents me?”.

THE BLOGOSPHERE IS ABLAZE! 🔥🔥🔥

Get your popcorn ready. This week calls for extra butter!

#FLORIDAWOMAN

Alaska Bloggers Nate Crawford, and ‘The Blue Alaskan’ were on a roll this week, digging up all kinds of interesting info on former Alaska Republican Party mouthpiece, now the governor’s propagandist, Suzanne Downing, who runs the “Must Read Alaska” blog. She’s the one who wears the Alaska flag cap everywhere, named her blog for Alaska, and spends a lot of time talking about how Alaskan she is, and assuring readers she really really does live in Alaska. Well, guess what!

Turns out Downing just claimed a homestead property tax exemption in… Tallahassee, Florida! That’s where her husband (who runs Florida Public Radio believe it or not) lives, and where anyone must live full-time in order to claim it. 

You are probably full of questions. 

  • Where does she claim full-time residency? (Florida, apparently)
  • Where is she registered to vote? (Alaska) 
  • Did this “full-time Florida resident” just vote in the Anchorage Municipal election? (Yes). 
  • What happens if she doesn’t live full time in Florida like she claims? (The tax collector gets very grumpy).
  • Did she file for a PFD? (She says not this year). 

So, is she a full-time resident of Tallahassee and eligible for her tax exemption, or is she a  resident of Alaska and eligible to vote? It’s all very confusing and the plot is thickening every time we turn around, so we’ll keep you posted on new developments.

(Go read the story HERE)

And they’re not the only two AK bloggers getting a lot of attention this week.

#DCINSIDER

After Dunleavy’s Commissioner of Administration, Kelly Tshibaka, (remember the one who was trying to privatize rural DMVs so those who got the contracts to run them could gouge Alaskans by charging them double?) announced she’d be running for Senate against incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski, The Alaska Landmine reminded everyone about what was revealed during her confirmation process, and now it’s gone viral. 

Even George Takei wants to know where they find these people. Spoiler: Dunleavy found her in DC, and now this DC insider has come back to Alaska after a prolonged absence so she can “fight DC insiders” with her newly hired team of DC insiders. 

This is one that defies description and you just have to listen for yourself. <<<link

WAYS AND MEANS KICKS OFF!

We’ve got a new special committee this year – the Ways & Means Committee! Alaska hasn’t had one since 2008, but thank goodness we do now, chaired by the indomitable Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage).

It’s mission? To control state spending, to make government more efficient, and to raise enough revenue to balance the budget. It’s a gigantic goal, but this special committee is taking it on. They’ve already met twice, and next week they will meet on Tuesday and Thursday at 11:30am, hearing from Alexi Painter with projections from the Legislative Finance Division, and Dan Robinson from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. To watch, tune in to 360north.org.

No Room for Nazis, & more committee madness

NO ROOM FOR NAZIS

The good news is that the actual Nazi apologist on the Alaska Human Rights Commission was removed. Gov. Dunleavy felt that her defense of Nazi phrases was… “distracting.” I think the word he was looking for was “wrong” or “abhorrent.” But regardless, Anchorage Assembly Member Jamie Allard is off the commission even though she still sits on the Anchorage Assembly. Tuesday night, when Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson addressed the chamber saying we must speak out forcefully against Nazism and hate, she was booed by a contingent of Allard fans in the audience. It’s irrelevant what your political party is, when your supporters are booing on behalf of Nazis, you are on the wrong side.

This is why showing up to vote in the Anchorage Municipal election in April is critical. Voting in the Presidential election was very satisfying, but when it comes to this kind of stuff, local elections determine who sits in the seats that affect your town every day. The right-wing extremists, the conspiracy theorists, the anti-science brigade, and the actual Nazi sympathizers are getting organized and banging on the gates. We saw it in D.C. on January 6, and we are seeing its ugly counterpart right here in Alaska. Make a pledge to pester your Anchorage friends to return those mail ballots for mayor as soon as they come, and know who you’re voting for! What would Anchorage look like if our next mayor was on Allard’s side?

Because if you thought that condemnation of Nazis is something that all Americans could get behind, think again.

BAD BILL, GOOD BILL

BAD BILL first: 

The Voter Suppression Bill, SB39, from Republican Senator Mike Shower of Wasilla, had its first hearing this week. There are many provisions in the bill, but overturning the will of Alaska voters by hobbling an initiative they voted for that included automatic voter registration on PFD applications is one. The other will infringe on the control of local governments to utilize mail-in voting in their elections.

SB39 was heard before the State Affairs Committee, which is chaired by Shower, and it was everything you might expect. The committee also includes conspiracy theorist Lora Reinbold, and the lone Democratic Senator Scott Kawasaki.

Twitter was on fire during the hearing:

Most of the hearing involved speculation about what might happen, reports from “some people” about problems they said they had, and no real facts or evidence. The purpose seemed to be to undermine confidence in our election process and claim it is rife with fraud. Kawasaki asked that Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer and the head of the Division of Elections be brought before the committee to discuss procedures and security measures that are in place. Shower said he’d been told that Lt. Gov. Meyer would not appear. [Reminder, the Lt. Gov. has ONE job, and that’s overseeing elections – but apparently he can’t be bothered to set any of these people straight]

(Sen. Shower’s staff advertising for a sports team as he presents at the hearing)

Shower’s staffers (Terrence Shanigan wearing football swag in the committee room, and disgraced former legislator Scott Ogan over the phone) pretty much took over the meeting. They talked about the fact that ballots disappear for a period of time once they’re mailed. Ogan also used the hypothetical situation of a village fraudulently filling out 100 ballots – but then tried to backtrack by saying that he himself lives in a village (Seldovia) and so he’s “not accusing anyone of anything, but…” He also talked about the importance of ethics. The irony was not lost on anyone who remembers Ogan’s unceremonious exit from the legislature under a cloud of corruption allegations. Shower & Co. made sure to issue strong denials that suppressing the vote has racial overtones, even though the result of voter suppression tactics always disadvantages communities of color.

And, of course, Lora Reinbold brought up a bunch of false accusations about Dominion Voting machines – the same Dominion that is suing Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for defamation for more than a billion dollars for their false accusations. 

If sowing uncertainty, and creating fake problems that need “solving” was the goal, then mission accomplished in this hearing.

*Reminder: The only party who wants to make it harder to vote is the one that knows that if every eligible voter could vote easily, Democrats would be more likely to win.

To follow what’s going on with the Voter Suppression Bill (SB39) you can either text ‘SB39’ to 559-245-2529 to enroll in text alerts, or you can follow along at akleg.gov which tells you everything you need to know about who sponsored and co-sponsored a bill, what the bill says, and where it is in the process of becoming law. Type the bill number into the search bar as below, and you’re off to the races.

GOOD BILLS!

HB66: As an antidote to the Voter Suppression Bill, be sure to check out HB66 from Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) which will actually make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote. Imagine that! We’ll cover this more in the coming days, but make sure it’s on your radar.

SB25: On the very short list of things we love that Gov. Sarah Palin did (it’s short but real!), was to put the State of Alaska’s checkbook online so everyone could see exactly what the state was paying, to whom, and when. Transparency – what a concept! And we enjoyed this transparency for many years… Until Mike Dunleavy. 

Now, for some reason ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ the checkbook is offline and has been “temporarily removed” for almost a YEAR, and nobody knows if it will ever come back. The good news is that Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) has introduced a bill that would codify the online checkbook into law, and make it searchable. Kind of like this. If they can do it in Ohio, they can do it here.

Same drill as above. If you want to follow what’s going on with the Alaska Online Checkbook Act, either text SB25 to 559-245-2529 to enroll in text alerts, or follow along at akleg.gov HERE  by typing SB25 into the search bar up top. This bill is due to have a hearing in the State Affairs Committee next Tuesday. You’ll be able to watch that live at 360north HERE.

JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MADNESS

A big sweeping bow to Matt Buxton of The Midnight Sun for doing the best job of bringing us right into the belly of the Judiciary Committee beast and reporting on Chair Lora Reinbold’s first whack at a committee meeting. The covid/election denier and anti-masker invited a controversial Swedish doctor who pitched his anti-mask/pro-herd immunity strategy to speak to her committee. And she’s also not wild about vaccines, but has huge opinions about how the way the administration has been handling covid is unconstitutional. As Buxton points out:

“Why it matters: This is a bad look for Reinbold and a bad look for the Senate Majority that has given her this platform.” [my emphasis]

Bingo, aaaaand bingo. Reinbold is who she is, and has never gone out of her way to hide it. So I’m not sure how productive it is to blame her for any of this. The people who voted for her have a hand in it, yes. But most of all, right now, we can plop this squarely in the lap of the newly formed Republican Senate Majority. They’re no different than Republicans at the national level right now, who invited the snakes (and their flag) into the tent, and now don’t know how to get them out. Alaskans should know better than most the importance of keeping bad things out of tents, but apparently the “moderate” Republicans in the Senate missed that lesson. They had the opportunity to caucus with Democrats – like they’ve done in the past – to keep the ship of state upright. But they chose instead … THIS.

[Reinbold speaking to DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum]
“You guys have had front and center for 10 months, you’ve had the media, everybody eating out of your hand for the last 10 months. This was and opportunity for question and answer in my committee so I gave you tremendous leeway, next time it will not be this way. … It’s really, really important to never forget what our founding fathers did, what the oppression that they dealt with and what the pilgrims and founding fathers and the oppression they dealt with and what they did to fight and die for the freedoms that we have now and a lot of the freedoms have been very, very much under attack over the last 10 months…”

BREAKING: Reinbold (who had threatened to cancel a Judiciary Committee meeting if Dunleavy didn’t send over Dr. Anne Zink to be interrogated by her about covid response) just canceled the Judiciary Committee meeting… Stay tuned for more on that!

THE STATE OF THE STATE HOUSE

Have the 20 Republicans in last year’s minority and the 20 D’s, R’s, and I’s from last year’s multi-partisan majority figured out how to organize yet? They either will form a broad coalition including Ds, Rs, and Is like last time, figure out how to take turns and share, or there will be an all-Republican majority and it will end up just like the Senate is right now. 

Here’s a live update of how it’s going so far:

We’ll keep you posted.

The ‘Law & Order’ Party Cheers AK Law Breakers

OH REEEEALLLLY…

So, it seems that Don “I call it the beer virus” Young is perfectly happy to wear a mask in the White House for a photo op, just not in his own state to protect his constituents. Here he is at the elbow of the Maskless One, at the now famous bill signing where the President referred to Yosemite National Park as “Yo Semites.” The bill was signed in the hope that it might help the beleaguered candidacies of Republican Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Steve Daines of Montana. No Democrats were invited to the signing of the bipartisan bill.

Any bets whether Don “it’s all media hype” Young will be masked up at this indoor campaign rally with five legislators and the Governor in attendance? Note the bottom right: “Feel free to wear a mask.” But you know, whatever… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Also, please remember that it will only take a teeny tiny uptick in voter turnout to put Alyse Galvin in the United States Congress and end the embarrassment that’s been plaguing our state since 1973. Just imagine having a member of Congress who knows how to use one of those new-fangled, whatchamacallit… “computers!”

*Side note – it’s interesting that Jesse Sumner is co-hosting. He’s the one who smirked while he talked about Ruth Bader Ginsberg “not being long for this world,” and is running against conservative golden boy David Eastman in House District 10.  

 

 

THE UNMASKED AVENGERS

For those who have missed it somehow, there’s a mask war brewing in Anchorage. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, in response to spiking COVID numbers in the city (because many residents refuse to mask-up and follow protocols) issued a mandate to suspend indoor dining again. And for some reason, it’s the same people who complain about the economy being shut down who also refuse to wear a mask so it can open safely because… Inhaling carbon dioxide! Forced vaccination with a spy chip! Government experimentation plot! I have a right to infect people so I’m not inconvenienced! And wearing a mask is like slavery and the Holocaust combined!!!

The anti-mask crowd is now flocking to a couple Anchorage eating establishments which refuse to comply with the safety measure and remain open for indoor dining despite stop work orders from the Municipality. The most notable of these is Kriner’s Diner who had an eat-in only specialthe day the order took effect (yes really). Guess which Anchorage Senator appointed by Dunleavy and up for reelection in November is the latest anti-science, anti-public health disease vector? And of course he gets a share and props from ol’ Tuckerman Babcock.

Josh Revak may be indulging in a big steaming portion of something, but it’s not freedom.

If you live in District M, remember that your Senator literally doesn’t care about the health and well-being of his own constituents. So if having a representative in Juneau who cares whether you live or die is important to you, you might consider a vote for Non-partisan candidate and Anchorage School Board member Andy Holleman who is running for that seat.

We already know that Sen. Lora Reinbold of Eagle River is an anti-masker who lied to Alaska Airlines so she didn’t have to wear a mask. She’s not going to be able to get away with THAT again, by the way. The Senator better start walking to Juneau if she wants to make it to the session on time.

Facebook groups are springing up for those who support a mask mandate in Anchorage HERE, and an updated verified list of businesses that are defying current health protocols HERE.

 

 

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Remember Donna Arduin – the temporary Budget Director/Cruella Deville of the Dunleavy administration? The one who said it wasn’t her job to know how her cuts would affect people? Well, her unskilled hatchet job on Alaska’s economy didn’t go very well, and she slunk back to Michigan after an ignominious demotion, and after cashing in on Alaska’s bad fortune. For reasons which remain elusive, Donna Arduin is phoning in endorsements for Alaska candidates eager to get to Juneau and continue hacking into the marrow of Alaska’s economic future without regard for Alaskans.

Tuckerman Babcock, former Dunleavy Chief of Staff, and current full-time Facebooker who alsoslunk away in disgrace after “resigning” from his position is cheering them all on. Has to make you wonder what kind of candidate is proud to be endorsed by these two – who not only contributed to the tanking of Alaska’s economy, but who were so bad at their jobs that Gov. Dunleavy told them to take a hike. The answer, apparently is Sharon Jackson running for reelection in Eagle River, John Cox running for Senate on the Kenai Peninsula, and Robert Myers running for Senate in North Pole.

 

 

 

 

THE BROKEN CLOCK

Even a broken clock is right twice a day, they say. In this case the broken clock is only right once every… [checks watch]… decade and a half.

I’ll give you a minute to absorb that. Donald Trump, Jr. AGAINST Pebble Mine. Which, of course, is the correct stance if you care at all about sustainable fisheries, thousands of jobs, and preserving a culture and way of life as old as the land. Ok, so he probably doesn’t care at all about THAT part, but he is in his own words, “a sportsman,” and has fished in Bristol Bay. So he wants to keep it full of fish for himself and his progeny – the King’s hunting grounds, if you will. But that’s ok. If everyone felt like that, we’d already have won. And if Donald Trump takes the cue and his EPA shuts the project down, we’ll be the first to thank him – right before we boot his tail out of the Oval Office. Maybe with all his newfound free time he’ll take up fishing.

 

UMMM…

Republican Senator Natasha “GET OFF MY LAKE” von Imhof, generally known for being ill-tempered and prickly, posted an uncharacteristically gracious thank you on her Facebook page to the kind “volunteers” who were helping her prep mailers and “going door to door” with her (during a pandemic). Not even the masks in the photo could hide the fact that her “volunteers” are actually her well-paid professional staffers in Juneau. As one of her opponents would say, VERY LOOSE!

 

AND THE WORST MESSAGING OF THE CAMPAIGN CYCLE SO FAR GOES TO…

House District 36 Republican candidate Leslie “oh no she di’int” Becker running to represent the Ketchikan area.

Yes, you just heard a candidate for a legislative seat, someone who wants to become an actual lawmaker, say she’s praying to God to “tie up the tongues” of Alaska Native communities who oppose mining and oil drilling and deforestation on their lands because they might get jobs so they can stop drinking and doing drugs. Sometimes, there are no words. There are other things she’s bugging God to intervene with, but you can read those yourself above. Note that her opponent, long-time Independent Dan Ortiz has never said anything remotely this awful. Just saying.

 

PRIMARY VOTE BY MAIL DEADLINE

Tomorrow, August 8 is the last day you can request a vote by mail ballot for the Alaska PRIMARY. There are lots of contested primary races this cycle, so jump in there and make your voice heard. It’s also a great practice run for your November general election ballot. You can request both a primary and general election ballot at the same time AT THIS LINK. Vote like your state and your country depend on it, because they do!